Since my gorgeous niece Olivia was born on November 31th, my outlook on life has been altered. She has given me something to look forward to. Each cuddle, each smile and each chat (Aunty Jac is always a favourite for having baby chats with) have enlightened my heart with pure joy. I was able to hold her by myself when she was first born and that was pure bliss.
About two weeks ago the men of the family demolished Nan’s shower. My sister Monique (Olivia’s Mum) was in the top room transferring “stuff” (for legal reasons I’m calling it “stuff”) onto Nan’s hard drive. Olivia was asleep in her pram beside me and I took great pleasure of keeping a watch over her. At one point, Olivia stirred so I gently put my hand on the edge of her pram and she grabbed my finger with her little fist. I thought “this is heaven”.
Many people look at people with severe physical disabilities and may automatically assume “you won’t enjoy watching us doing….because obviously you can’t physically do it.” What they don’t realise, just being included is enough! This year my goal is to take my older nieces and nephews to the park just a few doors down. That’s a huge thing because since my chair accident I don’t drive outside the house because of anxiety and pain. BUT, I will do it! Watching them play and just being with them will be a huge honour and privilege.
I have been hesitant to write this post. This morning I ran it across my good friend and he was shocked to hear what I’m about to tell you.
Two weeks ago coming back from the doctors, Mum left me in the car, while she went into the chemist. My communication device needed to be physically tapped (the specialised software sometimes gets “stuck” behind a Windows program so someone has to press on the program on the task bar for myself to gain control with the eyegaze again, so I was trying to get my hand to touch the screen, which is difficult when you have luque rods in your back).
A mother and girl who looked around ten years-old (maybe even older) came to the car parked next to us. The girl looked at me as I was an alien and stared. I’m used to some kiddies doing this (I understand, they’re curious or it’s just what some kiddies do), but what the parent did was unexcusable! The parent looked at me with disgust.
So I stared back at the parent who continued to look at me. Once the girl was in the car, her gaze was fixed on me. Finally the parent instructed the girl to stop looking at me, but whilst reversing out, the parent continued to stare. I wasn’t well, so I just stared back with a little smile (while thinking two words).
I really hate the thought of children being teased for being a little bit different. My nephew was born with clubbed feet and one working lung. You wouldn’t know this looking at him because he does everything what other kids do! However, sadly he was bullied by older kids and hadn’t said anything until recently. This broke our hearts because Mum and I know how cruel kids are. Some bullying events stay for you forever. Luckily when my sister brought it to the Vice Principal’s attention, the situation was swiftly dealt with.
So if you are a parent or guardian of children of ANY age, please make time to sit down to have a chat with them. Explain how everyone has feelings and it’s not cool to stare and tease someone who looks different.